There are some rather anonymous streets, which also look quite ordinary, but when you have a closer look… there is always something to find. Let’s thus have a look at Rue Nollet in the 17th arrondissement, in the Batignolles area. Its origins are a bit earlier than when this quarter became integrated into Paris in 1860. In 1864 the street changed its name from Rue Saint Louis to Rue Nollet. We can see the old street name on a building which thus obviously was constructed before 1864. It got its name from Jean Antoine Nollet (1700-1770), a clergyman and physicist, especially involved in the then new science of electricity. A postcard from around 1900 (sorry for the bad quality) shows how a “blind wall” those days was a place for advertising – soon for street art?
A map shows where you can find the street, crossing streets… In the upper part we are close to Place de Clichy. A lot of things happened here, especially during the years preceding impressionism, but that’s another chapter (see e.g. here).
Most of the buildings along the street are from the latter part of the 19th century…
… others are a bit more recent, early 20th century, much more bourgeoises, some with very rich decoration. The different type of building at no. 53 was once occupied by the “Parfums Rochas”, but is now for rent.
One building, no. 80, is probably of an early generation, with a garden in front (and a dog in the courtyard).
We can find some examples of bygone and still existing businesses…
… a number of art galleries…
… many examples of previous days’ rich decoration, sometimes with (probably) the owners’ initials.
On one of the doors you can read FFB – here was once the home of the French Boxing Federation.
In a backyard I found an old thermometer, obviously still showing the correct temperature.
At the top of the street, where it meets Rue des Dames (see previous post), you can find a very odd shop, “Angel Modes”, specializing in fashion for shows, especially of transvestite type, and the nicely decorated bar “Caves du Chalet”.
Walking down you will cross Rue Condamine, rich in history preceding the impressionism movement (see again here or here), where you once found the workshop of Frédéric Bazille, where Emile Zola lived for a while…
The street goes as far as to rue Cardinet and the new park ”Clichy-Batignolles-Martin Luther King” (on which I have posted a number of times, see here). On the corner is installed “Institut Vattel”, which offers high (university level) education of hotel/restaurant business (with a restaurant, where the students prove their skills).
But, what may be especially interesting is to see who has lived and worked, at least temporarily, along this street.
Starting with no. 1 of the street, we learn that the poet Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863) stayed here around 1838, more or less the time when the then famous actress Marie Dorval (closely linked to Georges Sand) was his mistress.
Another poet, Paul Verlaine (1844-96), spent part of his young life at no. 10. Even if you haven’t read his poetry, maybe you have seen the movie with Leonardo di Caprio in the role of his friend Arthur Rimbaud – actually a very complicated friendship. We can see them both in this painting by Henri Fantin-Latour.
Alfred Sisley (1839-99) spent some time at no. 41. Here you can see him portrayed by his friend Auguste Renoir.
At no. 54 a modern 1970-building now replaces a town house with garden which during WWII was occupied by Nicolas de Staël (1914-55), lent by friends. We can see a family photo from those days. His talented companion Jeannine Guillou (here portrayed by him), who died too young (1946), painted the garden which now is gone. They had some tough years, destroyed the interior of the house in order to get heating material, but received visits by Max Ernst, Picasso, Braque, Juan Gris…
Max Jacob, another poet (1876-1944), close friend of Picasso – especially in Pablos’s young years, but also of a great number of other artists, poets… lived at no. 55 during the years 1928-34. It became a “salon” where artists of all kinds met - musicians, composers, poets, painters, but also e.g. Christian Dior, who those days was still a gallerist, a popular singer like Charles Trenet… Jean Cocteau came frequently. Arrested in 1944, Max Jacob had just the time to die before being transported to Auschwitz. The portraits of Max Jacob are by Modigliani, but probably already from about 1916.
There are a number of other celebrities who have spent shorter or longer periods of time here, but I haven’t found the street numbers.
Amédée de Noé, better known as “Cham” (1818-79) was a caricaturist who published in the famous illustrated magazine “Charivari” (1832-1937).
Film director Jean Eustache (1938-81) lived here many years, until his death by suicide. He’s especially known for the movie “La Maman et La Putain” with Bernadotte Lafont and, particularly, Jean-Pierre Léaud, known for performing as “Antoine Doinel” in a series of François Truffaut movies. I found a photo of Truffaut, shooting in a window Rue Nollet. In Eustache’s flat? Anyhow they were friends.
Other people who stayed here for shorter or longer periods: The poet Langston Hughes (1902-67), the author Henry Miller (1891-1980) – we are in the Clichy area, the painter Yves Klein (1928-62)…
Barbara (1930-97) songwriter, singer, was born in the crossing street, rue Brochant, but spent her childhood rue Nollet before being forced to leave Paris with her parents during the Nazi occupation. A little alley in the nearby park, Square des Batignolles (“my park”) has received her name.
To finish this long post, maybe we can listen to her?